Thanks to increasing demand and higher profit, farmers in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta – to which highly nutritious rice is native – have agreed to expand the area for planting it during the coming winter-spring crop.
Farmers of the My Thanh Nam farming cooperative in Tien Giang Province will grow Cam Cai Lay (dark violet or black fragrant rice grown in Cai Lay District) on a total of 70 hectares in the coming crop from November to January.
On average, the output of growing species of ‘herbal rice’ reaches five to eight metric tons per hectare, according to Phan Quoc Hung, marketing manager of the ADC farming company, which underwrites the output of the cooperative.
In the market, the dark violet and fragrant rice of My Thanh Nam is trademarked as Truong Tho, meaning longevity.
Similarly, Dong Thap Province in the region has another species of ‘herbal rice’ named Ngoc do huong dua (pineapple-flavored red pearl rice).
The Dinh An farming cooperative in Lap Vo District said it will increase the area for growing the exclusive rice species to 120 hectares next crop from 23 hectares last crop.
All the output of Ngoc do huong dua is underwritten by the local rice export firm Docimexco.
However, both ADC and Docimexco admitted that it is not easy to multiply the area for planting ‘herbal rice’ because the species are highly native, meaning the quality of rice grown in ‘foreign’ land is not the same as that cultivated in native soil.
Dinh An has provided Ngoc do huong dua seed rice for farmers in other surrounding localities, but their products are not as fragrant as the ones grown in Lap Vo.
Similarly, Cam Cai Lay rice grown in Cai Lay is better than the same product planted in other locales.
ADC and Docimexco said they have been coordinating to find suitable land to further expand the planting of ‘herbal rice’ in the region.
The export prices of Cam Cai Lay and Ngoc do huong dua reach US$800 per metric ton, while the rate for normal fragrant white rice Jasmine is just $530 per metric ton.
Farmers admitted that growing ‘herbal rice’ provides them with a profit three or four times higher than growing normal fragrant rice.
A scientific analysis carried out by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Dong Thap showed that every 100 grams of Ngoc do huong dua rice contain 73mg of calcium, 9.84mg of iron, 46.6mg of vitamin E, and trace elements of vitamin B1, B2, and C.
In addition, 100 grams of the rice include 8.75 percent of protein and 1.85 percent of glucose.
Scientists say that the nutritional value of Ngoc do huong dua rice is much higher than other kinds of rice, and it is good for the elderly and patients of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
As for Cam Cai Lay rice, a kilogram contains 26.4mg of iron, which is over 80 percent higher than white rice Jasmine and equal to the content of iron in 0.9kg of beef.
Finally, a kilogram of Cam Cai Lay rice has 137mg of calcium, tripling that of Jasmine. Cam Cai Lay rice also has different minerals and vitamins, like B1, B2 and B5, which are not found in normal rice.